Now Speaking: Dave Winfield 27 Apr 12

Now Speaking: Dave Winfield! All photos and stories by Gordy Jones.

In 2005, Dave Winfield came home to dedicate a newly, refurbished Dunning Field that he grew up on. Shown with him is former Twins radio voice interviewing Kirby Puckett's protege, Torii Hunter.

Dave Winfield, who is a St. Paul native and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, called the other day to tell me he will be visiting the Twin Cities on May 11 to conduct a business seminar. I asked Dave for a few details, and he said, “You’ll see me in a new capacity. I am doing a business, public seminar with a friend of mine who is a Hall of Famer in his own right; writing books, doing seminars, speaking, and writing for magazines. His name is Jeffrey Gitomer.”

 

David went on to say that he met Jeffrey when Gitomer spoke to a group that Winfield was part of. It turns out it was an exclusive round-table business meeting in New York City put on by Minnesota entrepreneur Harvey Mackay. After the meeting, Jeffrey was so impressed with David’s sports life, business life, and communication skills that he suggested they team up to do the seminars together. They decided to begin by doing them in the six cities where Winfield played. The program debuts here, his home state of Minnesota. Public speaking is nothing new to Dave Winfield. I’ve heard him speak since I helped him start the Winfield Foundation in 1977, and he’s very dynamic.

Dave went on to comment: “Yes, public speaking has always been part of my life — during and after baseball. I have been a professional speaker for quite a while, but I want to integrate it more into what I currently do. I really enjoy all that I do.” Dave is currently a VP for the San Diego Padres, a successful business entrepreneur, and a family man.

Tony credits his great health to hanging around young people and baseball

The event sounds pretty cool, and I know that Dave is very proud of his portion of the seminar. It also has add-on options, including a VIP lunch and watching a Twins game with David in a suite at Target Field.

Dave got his 3000th hit as a Twin; years before that he met a young Kirby Puckett and became his mentor. That started a chain reaction, as Kirby followed his footsteps and mentored Torii Hunter, Torii mentored Denard Span, and Denard befriended Ben Revere and helps him with on-and off-field situations. Dave told me, “Kirby was one of my best friends. I loved that guy. But that’s the way it was when I was coming up. There was a guy on my team who was a mentor…his name is Willie McCovey. That will be a point covered in my seminar: find a mentor, someone you respect, who has been there and done that. That’s one component that can help make your career and life successful.”

Dave lives in Bel Air, California with his wife, Tonya, and three children. His youngest children are twins. David II and Arielle were born here when he played for the Twins, and are now 17. His son is already 6-foot-9, plays basketball, and has several colleges scouting him. Both kids excel in academics. Dave said, “No matter where I go, I tell everyone that my kids are true Minnesota Twins. That was my team growing up.” He also has a daughter named Shanel.

The fee for the seminar ranges from $149 to $449, depending on the options you choose. To register go to www.gitomer.com.

A Few Words With a Legend.

I couldn’t help but notice how young Tony Oliva continues to look, so I asked him his secret. “I exercise every day and try to eat right. Every morning I go to the club and exercise. I walk a lot; I do everything; I give myself a little tune-up. But I don’t kill myself, just enough to keep myself in shape.” I asked Tony if I could ask his age, and he said: “No! You wouldn’t ask a woman her age.” Then he laughed and said, “I’m 73 and three-quarters — almost 74. Yes!”

Harmon Killebrew and Tony Olivia played together, were very close friends and continued to instruct Twins players together at spring training until Harmon's passing last year. Tony still works with the team all year.

“I am often around young people, and they help to keep you young. I keep active, too. It’s good to be active. Oh, and being around baseball! That’s been great for me and my family. God and my job in baseball is everything. I don’t care how I’m feeling. I come here (to the ballpark), and see the white baselines, and forget everything. Here we speak the right language. We speak about baseball. We don’t talk about business or politics. We only talk about the happy stuff.”

 

I asked him what his life would have been like if he hadn’t played baseball. “It’s hard to say because you know I’m from Cuba. We used to have a farm…I love to farm. I used to tell my wife that someday we’d retire and move back to Cuba to the farm. We’d have a house on the farm, and go fishing whenever we want to. But I’m very happy Minnesota found me. They took me to see your country, I signed with them, and 51 years later I’m still here. I feel very happy that this happened. Otherwise who knows what would have happened to me and my family.”

I asked Tony if he really eats his Cuban sandwich they sell at Target Field. His usual smile grew bigger. “Absolutely! It is the best. Everything at this stadium is great, but those Cuban sandwiches are very, very good. I helped our chef design it, but we’ve got a great chef, best in the world. I made suggestions, and he made it. I’m glad because it makes many people happy. I get many nice comments.”

As we were parting, he continued to talk: “Wait. I want to say, I love Minnesota and the people here. I’m from Cuba, but Minnesota is my home.”